“White Dresses” – Ruth Daniell

nicolas sanchez-Birthright_jpg

At the open house held the day after the wedding
you did not recognize the bride until you asked

and your mother pointed her out to you.
Surrounded by wrapped gifts and ribbons,

she was wearing an elegant pant suit appropriate
for a garden party, but you were unimpressed:

you remembered the white gown of the day before,
the tiny pearlescent beads sewn all over its bodice

and the flowing skirts, the way the music swelled
around the fabric as she danced with her groom

and it made you understand something big
and important was happening to the bride

and you thought it must have something to do with
the fact she was beautiful. If I had a dress that pretty,

you said with all the wisdom of your five years,
I would wear it every day. Your mother laughed

and the anecdote became famous in the family
as you grew up. Truth is, you still feel this way,

sometimes. Your own white dress is sheathed
in plastic at the back of your closet and you worry

you will never again be as beautiful as you were that one day
you wore it. You worry it is important to be beautiful,

that there are so few ways for you to be seen in this world
because you were a girl and now you are a woman.

these words by Ruth Daniell were inspired by the work of Nicolas V. Sanchez

On Vulnerability: “Forsaken Feathers”


Two seagulls fly low, weaving underneath and above each other. Their interactions caught in a glimpse, mid-form. Black footprints upon the white glistening snow match these black tipped birds as they fly against white cloud. They weave underneath and above, through their mirrored existence. Our environment runs parallel to our creation; our image is chosen/created, our feathers with which we cloak ourselves.

Their flight draws my eyes down as they land on the branch above you. The wind dances through each branch of the tree, an invisible force that shakes the soul from complacency. That same wind blows your coat open from across the park. Stealing the air right out from my lungs, it continues to power through your feathers.

Above you, the leaves rustle against this force, and your subconscious proclamation of self exposes itself through vibrancy, a testament of individuality.   

I only see what you have conscripted to be yours. The cultivation of your portrayal is just an accumulation of elements favoured and adopted from others. (I would know.)

The tree above me is my own product. A manifestation of a lifetime of observation and careful selection, with cherished values, amplified desires, and distorted experiences.

My tree, your tree; up through the rough, textured trunk which grows stronger and taller with every opinion adopted. Each tree is an existential playground for us to swing, explore, and grow in our own identity: a branch for every joy, a root for every sadness. The forest of humanity lives and breathes, grows and dies. The leaves shed as seasons of growth embody the human condition of evolution. 

Who I am and how my tree grows is an elaborate reflection of all that I chose to define me.

Unfamiliar feathers tickle my chin. One leg wrapped around another hold us close. Velvety flesh sliding and sticking; we are but two trees in a winter forest. You’ve dominated my perception as shards of you sear into my skin. Hot breath heavy and damp pass between us… through us… The wind is still. There is but you and I. Aside from our biologies/biology, we are indistinguishable.

My tree will never stand as tall as it does in this immortal moment, next to you. Perhaps, before, it did, when we met in crisp white and black footprints.

Our fingers then fumbled with the buttons of our cloaks and we cautiously shed our defensive feathers, leaving them for the birds. The same feathers where we chose to hide ourselves left us in blank white nakedness. Nude from perception and projection, abandoning ego driven expectation.

But they will return, just as we must re-dress. And my walk, your eyes, my charm, your laugh, will carry on painting an image from borrowed colours. Each personalized tree a displayed collection of borrowed attributes. We can do nothing but motion forward in this jungle world, searching for those moments where our feathers shed and our trees stand taller than they have before.  

these words by Alexandra Sheffield were inspired by the colour of Raphael Varona 

From the author: “This art inspired an exploration on the self engineered image we wear for others recognition. Ones image as a lifetime of accumulative elements  becoming hypostatized as an emblematic tree.  How far are we willing to go to maintain this image?  When and for who do we drop the façade and allow ourselves to be exposed?”


How We Deal With Trauma


word by Keah Hansen

colour by Garry Tugwell Smith

content warning: violence

Her steel flanks glisten under a sordid sun. Scream white when sparring with that heady fire which scalds and percolates. Steam abates and disappears under the softer consciousness of the moon. In a world of duality we see seek healing our gendered symbols. We trail our fingers with alacrity over constellations of great queens. Bury our toes in the soil of wildflowers.  In a world of gender, the male deftly danced us to the mantelpiece and left us there to sweep and decorate and gaze about winsomely. Coddling the hearth with a dainty steel prong. Another wary night- the room is aflame as steel and her fire twirl and jest.

At the present moment we find our battleship sinking into black waters. She heeded caution and wore her armour willingly, heaving bells of alarm when the first missile singed her pristine sides.  In that vast ocean of a house, the cries besides the mantelpiece dissolved at the mudroom, unheard by the neighbours outside. Dashed twice on the rocks; a champagne flute smote under his gaze; the fire burned the scented candle wax and the moon waned to hide the rosy cheeks of the slipping ship.

Watch her picking ash off her skirt. Laundering out the lingering smoke of last night. Watch him watching her as they resume position- his fire rising out of that chimney and filling the world with another declaration of maleness. The delicate steel prong with flower etchings rests mutely by morning, like the battleship that poises leaden on the ocean floor. Salty water urges rust to spread up her shoulders and into the newly formed cavities.

This water mutes and oppresses. It won’t offer rebirth to she who has so many others to birth and support. Her body is a symbol of victory for patriarchy- the self-effacing female imprinted onto the minds of millions like a postcard of a battleship at rest. A war song rolls over the banks, prettying words of chauvinism.

For now, we pour our healing and ourselves into smaller symbols of identity. The ocean will someday offer its support– after countless battleships have chipped away and yielded to the currents- then women too will claim this territory as reverential. The mythic female will nest in these digressive and mysterious tides and the battleship will morph into a chanting pacifist baring flowers and peasant skirts. Identity is formed by such symbols- the kind that animates and roars and threatens to enflame a house with words.*

From the author:

“As I started writing this piece, I was inspired by the symbolism of the sunken warship resting on a seabed, and reflected on the processes of healing for different types of people, honing in on women in particular. However, these musings inspired a digression on the symbolic as a catalyst for growth and as a figurative location for anchoring, which unleashed a self-reflexive essay on the transience of the meanings behind symbols and the potency in claiming symbols for tangible social change.”

Read more words on mental health by Keah Hansen

See more colour by Garry Tugwell Smith

We love to point out shadows in the dark / But do we illuminate the monsters?


“Illuminated Monsters”

word by Sean Hogan

colour by Giordani Poloni

More philosopher than centerfold,

She stops and stares at men who don’t care,

Beneath breasts beats more than fool’s gold,

Still, eyes linger where they wish she’d bare,


Fit to raise our youth and clean,

To buy and cook the food we eat,

Never heard and seldom seen,

Her labored fruits made bitter sweet,


The sliding scale of value froze

Needle pausing under half

Youthful beauty no longer shows

Her age screwed up the math.


At forty-five she “wastes away”,

Unmarried, unfortunate maid,

A gringo sitcom worn cliché,

To live, you must get paid,


She is only one example

One in all the many forms

A gender bent and trampled

Weathered leather in the storm


If a woman’s words fall on deaf ears,

Did they emerge or make a sound?

Do they possess so much to fear,

To keep the cycle spinning round?


Over half the population,

Trapped in shades of subjugation,

In every continent and nation,

In fear of pain, of death, invasion,


Is it not enough their body’s not their own,

That we wear and tear their very souls?

Teach girls to fear being alone,

To never take direct routes home?


We love to point out shadows in the dark,

But do we illuminate the monsters?

Trembling fingers hold no spark,

Steady hands, both shame and flaunt her

word by Sean Hogan

colour by Giordani Poloni

Lines & Anemones


word by Charlotte Joyce Kidd

colour by Burkhard ller 

Every day that I leave the house I feel that I am leaving it wearing a sign (or maybe an expression? An outfit?) that says “here I am, world. Have at me.” I feel this way even though – when I do leave the house – I leave it also wearing the cozy winter coat of privilege, not to mention an actual, real winter coat. I can’t imagine how hard it must be without these things.

There are these little lines in between everyone’s lives, aren’t there? There’s this space in between everyone and it’s like we’re all just extending these tiny tendrils across it, these little, feeble gooey white groping things with suction cups on the ends, and sometimes we meet someone and we manage to say things that make sense and actually express anything that we really feel or mean, and if they do too and enough of our tendrils stick to enough of theirs, then we feel better for a bit, like someone actually knows us. But even if you do that for your whole life, your whole life with the same person (and that’s problematic, too, let’s talk about that) how many of your little limbs could you extend? How many of theirs could you touch?

I got on the streetcar after spending the night with a boy and on a cold corner I saw a couple walking by and I thought about how he would react if I suggested that we spend an entire day walking around and telling each other every single thing that passed through our minds. We could take turns, do an hour each and then switch. He’d told me in words that were decisive and made sense that we could never understand each other completely, because I’m white and he’s not and I’m a woman and he’s not. I agree. There’s something noble in the futility of trying to understand, though, isn’t there? There’s something beautiful about learning to replace understanding with empathy, about reaching out and touching the tendril even though you can’t stick to it.

Sometimes there are chasms between people. Sometimes the lines yawn. Sometimes two people have pushed enough times that their plates push further and further apart, sometimes one person has made a moat around themselves because of something that happened. Sometimes that moat is not a bad thing, sometimes it is not wrong to require someone to have very long limbs before we let them reach us. 

So we’re all alone, playing a giant game of tic tac toe, reaching out from our separate boxes with words written or spoken or felt, or with devices, these electronic arms with which we send cries into the ether and hope for ethereal responses, echoes in the chasm. And maybe some people are closer to the edges of their boxes than others. It’s all very lonely and very hopeful.*

word by Charlotte Joyce Kidd

colour by Burkhard ller 

On Heteronormativity, High School: “Easy”

word by Alisha Mascarenhas

colour by Tomasz Kartasinski


The bend in her legs is relaxed; easy.

She folds one beneath the other, waiting for the night to set in.

The loop in each clean, white hightop precise and dangling with that quiet anticipation that comes after sucking back the frenetic bubbling of the first beer. Giddy elation that rises to the sternum.

From where I stand in that hot pit of a parking lot all I can read on her body I feel in my hands: blunt fingers softening into the pinch of polyester jacket pockets.

All my life taught how to be seen by men, I don’t know what it is to look at a girl. I never gave myself permission. I want to know how to look without inhaling her; to let my gaze settle on her whole being; the space she inhabits and the retreat of a sleeve that licks her inner forearm.

She won’t look at me. At home with the other queers I’ve found ease in a different norm. Ambiguous friendships warmed by late night snuggles on that long, blue couch in my apartment, kisses on the mouth and other quiet affections. Sometimes sex.

But to her, I’ve decided, I’m someone to compare haircuts and outfit choices with. She might squeeze my hand later, or borrow my jacket as we walk home. We might share a cigarette and she won’t give a second thought to what’s passed between us. To her, I’ve decided, I’m another girl and she won’t ever look at our intimacies as anything other than sweet, dry and easy.

If she calls, it will be easy. The gesture only half thought through as she decides what to do with her Sunday afternoon. Not the tense thrill of an inhale that catches at the throat. Not the fleeting imagination of all the ways our bodies might move against one another. I’m a girl. We are girls. She’ll talk about boys. Girl talk. Girl love: not a boy-girl kind of a thing.

She won’t need to think about what to wear or how she smells. She might take a shower just to clear her head of the day; show up at my front door with her hair disheveled to eat ice cream at the kitchen table as I shrink into the wall across from her, afraid that if I get too close I might feel her breathing.

When we part, she’ll give me a little squeeze. Like a friend. Like girls do.

From the author: “I wrote this as a commentary on how systemic narratives of heteronormativity seep into the ways girls are taught to relate to one another and to their desiring selves. It is a response to how friendships between girls are mediated by romantic relationships with boys: constricting the kinds of intimacies that are permissible. I chose to use the words “girls” and “boys” to speak to a process of revisiting an adolescent self: a critical time during which heteronormative scripts can be particularly forceful.”

On Heteronormativity: “Blue”


She recoiled from me; our breath left stagnant carbon dioxide in the air.

“What if—”

She bowed her head, interrupting me with piercing subtlety. I felt my body succumb to the numbness of rejection, some feigned self-defense in preparation for when she’d say the word that would make me crumble at her feet.

Her hollow cheeks were flushed, lips pursed- eyes, pensive now. I couldn’t bear the insurmountable shock of no.

Leave now, get out, I begged myself.

Go before she tilts her cheek at me the way she so-often does, ensconced in blue-violet, and says my name.

She was scorching and the thought of losing her felt unbearably electric as I reached for her arm, craving that magenta, tell me it’s okay.

She looked spooked.

“I’m sorry.”

She shook her head as if ridding herself of an awful dream.


Blinking, I withdrew. She ran a finger over her lower lip, as if to feel the words as they left her mouth, and then shifted her gaze to me. “I don’t…”

I felt a surge of disappointment. But she let her eyes linger on mine. I studied their magenta hues, wanting to learn her before the moment she would inevitably tell me say goodbye.

I stared at her expectantly, unsure of what I could say.

“Of course I still care for you,” she spoke softly.

I no longer felt like crumbling.

“I want children, you know? This was fun. You have to understand.”

Now it was she who awaited my reaction. I wanted the moment last as long as possible. Anything I said now would become inextricably linked to a new era of us and I wasn’t ready to let her go just yet.

word by Annie Rubin
“Bold colours, and the well-defined silhouette of a woman inspired this piece to focus on passionate intimacy. This is a critique of heteronormativity, emphasizing two conflicting views on the legitimacy of a relationship between two women. I want to bring attention to the ways in which societal standards shape individual choices at a basic personal level.”

colour by Andre Barnwell 

Andre Barnwell was born July 7th, 1984 and raised in Toronto but currently resides in Vancouver. Ever since moving out west in 2013, Andre has been inspired by the city’s art community and motivated by the accessibility to the tools he needs to pursue his artistic passion and desires. Graduated as an animator from Ontario’s Sheridan College he was exposed to various styles and media to create art even though he prefers to use digital as a means to an artistic end. Fascinated by the human face, most of work is portrait based ranging in different colour schemes, particularly his blue and red monochromatic digital studies.

Outside of portrait work and digital sketches, he enjoys music, film, travelling, and building his brand, Sex N Sandwiches. He looks forward to collaborating with artists such as sculptors, photographers and musicians for future projects. With the world getting smaller with the help of technology, he implores artists and art lovers to follow his growth via social networks and eventually to international stages.

Keep it growing!

Professional Contact: 
Email: andrebarnwell@gmail.com

Social Contact:
Twitter: @AndreBarnwell77
Instagram: AndreBarnwell77

The author’s words do not necessarily represent the views of the artist.

On Gender Roles: “I am an extra X”


Trigger warning: rape

I am the perpetual embodiment of two letters. I am an extra X, and that’s all I will ever be.

Before I even heard my name they saw me on a screen. They sang with joy because I had an X and not a Y and the spare bedroom was already painted a dusty rose. Dad’s heart sunk because I dashed his dreams of taking my team to state.

When I was born they cried and hugged and congratulations overflowed out of Hallmark cards. I got a card too. It noted my extra X. During my third month they called me beautiful and cradled me more gently than they did my brother because my X baptized me as a paper-doll.

They kissed my cheeks and tucked me into floral flannels grandma gave me when Mom had a party with pink paper plates from the dollar store.

When I was five every boy was my prince and I decided that my wedding would be on a white sand beach with lilies in my bouquet.

When I was seven I finally started to colour inside the lines and I hated subtraction but my teacher told me that that was okay because girls are better at art anyways.

When I was nine my mom caught me trying on her makeup and scolded me for using the wrong shades. When I was 12 I cried because the boys wouldn’t let me play soccer with them anymore.

When I was 13 I cried because my ex-teammate shattered my heart.

When I was 19 I dropped out of physics because my test sheets were covered in X’s and I figured I was better at English anyways.

When I was 23 my heart was broken for the fourth time and my friends told me to forget about the X’s on the back of my hand. He bought me a drink or maybe it was six and I let him taste the seventh one on my tongue even though I hated that song and his breath reeked of Jack Daniels.

When I was 24 they still told me I shouldn’t have worn that skirt that night.

When I was 27 I said I do and they called me beautiful and cried and hugged and gave me tips on how to please my prince.

When I was 28 they bought me pink paper plates at the dollar store.

When I was 30 I typed X’s and O’s into a dusty keyboard and my boss called me “doll” and I was in charge of the coffee machine and I called it my life.

When I was dead the obituaries read “daughter and mother and wife” and nothing more. X marked the spot and they dressed me in floral and kissed my cheeks and the Hallmark cards came pouring in.

Sometimes he brings me lilies.

Most times he forgets.

He tells them that I was beautiful. I suffocate. I am an extra X, and that’s all I will ever be.

word by Hannah Chubb

colour by Marina Gonzalez Eme

Issue 217 (Gender, Sexuality): “IN THE BATHROOM”



May and Silas lie on the bed. May knows that it would be worthwhile having sex right now—to feel close to him, to remind him that she is not ordinary. Right now she would rather have sex with her substitute science teacher (he had that hair that she liked, it licked up the back of his neck) or the butch woman who had stared at her in the waiting room at the dentist after school yesterday. The staring had made her go red in the face and her vagina spasm in a way that Silas’s gaze hadn’t in months.


Silas turns his slender frame towards her. He is fine and delicate. I’m bored, he grins, let’s cuddle. She grins back and stretches out her arms to pull him in—her arms over his shoulders as always, her body bigger and darker than his will ever be. They kiss and then she pulls back just enough for him to pull back too. Do you want to, he asks, hot breath smelling of closed rooms and wet toilet paper. She pauses. Yes. His eyes coat her in beauty—when he is aroused she feels like he sees her better. She can toss her head and whinny, like a mare, and he will kiss her pulsing veins. They help each other to pull off their clothes: her undies, his exhausted boxer briefs. There is always a laugh here, when her undies are down around her ankles and she is shifting and twisting to fling them off. Sexy, he says.


Moans. Noises she never makes at any other time but that she consciously makes now. Light, quick breaths on his collarbone and light, quick bites of his stretched out neck skin. She doesn’t feel like it until his penis goes in. Then it does feel good, good, like she tells him.


May rolls over, taking Silas with her until he is underneath. She can feel the sweats of each of them slipping and creaking against each other.  She is provocative up here. Silas is beaded lightly all over and his eyes bulge. May resists an urge to reach out and gently move his hair from out of his eyes. This must be over quickly before the sheen wears off and he starts to see the hair on her arms, her pores. Silas tells her he loves her. She feels the warmth of the words in her fingers and her vagina aches just behind and below the labia when she looks down to see his light tuft and her dark one, their tufts, bouncing against each other.


Silas pulls her hips tight in against his own and heaves at her, the sound a bath drain slurping. May breathes out and pulls the sheet across her shave-cut legs. She will bring herself to climax later, will run the tap to quiet her sounds, in the bathroom.

word by Laura McPhee-Browne

From the author: “I saw this art piece as the collage of a girl going through the emotions of becoming a young adult.

This art piece brought back to me the insecurities, anxieties and play-acting aspects of being a young woman, and I decided to write a story that delved into the mind of a young woman trying to be ‘normal’ and to do ‘normal’ things, such as having satisfying, meaningful sex with her boyfriend, despite the ambiguity and complexity of such an act.
Through my story, I also wanted to get across how much pressure there can be on young women to be ‘nice’, to be ready and willing, and to be relaxed, and to sacrifice their own pleasure and well-being for the sake of men, when this is an impossible and unrealistic expectation. I believe that the various slogans in the art piece, ‘BEING NICE IS COOL’ and ‘DON’T FRET’ are the slogans that young women chant inside themselves, when really it should be okay to not be okay.”

colour by Jasmine Okorougo

On Transphobia: “In the flickering light of Bruce Jenner”

11042014_10205205042341878_1057056267_nI should have known because she’d lit a candle- no one lights a candle without some kind of intent. They’re symbolic markers of the passage of time; it would be karmically careless to burn them without a reason to.

But my willful ignorance has gotten me into loads of tight spots: I dress for the weather I want, not the weather it is.

She was painting her nails and she blew on one as the man on TV teared up, eyelid flickering.

      “Do you think he’s lying?” I asked, as if this stranger’s life were a card I’d been dealt to judge. 

She’d lit this big candle and it was just sitting in the middle of the table, like, here it is, I want to fuck you. And I couldn’t help thinking the whole time about this conversation I’d had about how it’s bullshit that a woman is supposed to capitalize on sex, like it’s still an economic equation where it’s all she has to sell and gain by, and yet, I saw that candle and felt like I was probably going to give something away for free.   

      “I think if you feel like a woman, then you are. I believe in that,” she said.

Not a woman, I thought: you can’t decide to be a woman, can you… you can’t know what it is until you live with the certitude that someone could insert a new life into your own body… the uterus, soil for colonization…    

I took her from the front, time burned, and the next day my hair smelled just like the candle and I wondered how much it had cost her.

      “Haven’t you ever looked in the mirror and known that the person that you are is more attractive than the face looking back?” she asked.

      “Are we attacking my looks now?” I said. 

      “No, see, who we are is more important than what we are. That’s why we’re different from animals. That’s why we can be women without uteri, or men with them.”

word by Charlotte Joyce Kidd

colour by Marcus Denomme

Dénommé is currently based in the Coast Salish Territories of so-called Canada, Marcus Dénommé’s works use abstraction to disrupt and critique institutional norms.

Coming from a background in street art, Dénommé’s multi-disciplinary work ranges from expressionist drawing/painting, to relief and estisol printmaking techniques, to performance art, and can be recognized widely throughout Canada.

Their work has been displayed in the Foundation Exhibition at Emily Carr University of Art and Design (2015), and all the way to the public murals of Haileybury, Ontario (1995).

Dénommé seeks to engage with the communities in which he is living, and to use art as an accessible voice against patriarchal colonialism.

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